Carolina: Cruising Past 70

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Camping around America, the Beautiful

camping in North Carolina

Excerpts from Appendices 4 and 6 of Carolina: Cruising to an American Dream

Glamping, a recent trend coined from the phrase glamorous camping, technically refers to luxury cabins and tents.  I like to think that it all started with camping in an RV, something we did for eight years of our lives, in different campgrounds all over America. Doing so exposed us to different cities and towns around the country. And it allowed us to meet many “neighbors” along the way.  As a late-age immigrant, I am proud to have completed a fun discovery of America. I hope everyone who seeks citizenship can do so before becoming one.

camping in Joshua Tree National Park

In hindsight, we found four different kinds of campgrounds. They can best be illustrated with a grid having an x and y-axes. If we assign Location as the y-axis and Amenities/Activities as the x-axis, then four quadrants are created.  As you go higher on the y-axis, you go from urban to rural; as you move from left to right on the x-axis, you go from one with absolutely no amenities or activities to one with a ton of them. I call those with many amenities and activities, "resorts," and the ones with little or none, "parks." Then I use the term "nature" to differentiate the rural campgrounds from those that are nearer urban centers for which, in turn, I use the term "city."

We stumbled into the Nature RV Resort in Lenoir, North Carolina when we looked for a spot from which we could explore the Blue Ridge Parkway. We loved going home to the Green Mountain RV Resort. Our site had a sizable deck, looking out to a fresh spring.  Bill loved the large trees, went hiking in the many trails and dreamed of fishing and boating in the lake. We frequented a clubhouse with billiard tables, ping pong tables, and other games. Bill started his golf career with the nine-hole golf course in the resort. But the tennis and volleyball courts were left untouched. As for me, I learned the East Coast Swing from a family that was vacationing for a weekend at a Saturday dance!

camping in Orlando Thousand Trails

What immediately comes to mind as a City RV Resort is the Thousand Trails-Orlando in Florida. It’s just six miles from Disney World and within walking distance of strip malls and big grocery and other chains. My entire family staged a reunion there that Christmas. We loved going to the large clubhouse which was full of game kiosks, billiard tables, ping pong tables, a large TV, a gift shop, and even a diner. We began lots of things there: our religious observance of fitness center visitations, lazy afternoon lounging in the hot tubs and pools and energetic dancing to live bands with neighbors during the Friday night dances. Tennis courts, horseshoe pits, volleyball courts, and a mini-golf course remained unvisited though, as well as the craft and hobby clubs. I will never forget this Resort. It is where Bill suffered a heart attack the day we arrived. But it is also where we met Dan and Beverly who helped me through that episode. Another person I met was Roberta, a struggling writer. who published her book the year before I published mine.

The City RV Park is used primarily to be near family or friends whom we would like to visit or as a base from which to explore a famous large city. I remember how we religiously went out every day to take the train and subway link to Boston. We did not meet a lot of people because everybody was busy, like us, visiting the sights in this city that is synonymous with the start of the American Revolution. It became part of my inner journey to becoming an American, where I started to hum the Star-Spangled Banner all day, to Bill's delight.

camping at Kirk Creek Campground in Big Sur

Last but not least, the Nature RV Park is probably what you need when you want to get away from it all. State and national parks, as well as parts of our national forests, Corps of Engineers’ land preserves, beach enclaves, etc., are of this type.  Some national parks, such as the Joshua Tree National Park, qualify; bigger national parks with plenty of facilities, such as Yosemite and Yellowstone, are more like Nature RV Resorts. The best one that comes to mind is the Kirk Creek Campground along Big Sur, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It has a trail that led down to the largest sand beach in the area. It has no water hook-ups, so when young campers ran out, Bill graciously donated some of our supply. I spent many a night by a warm crackling fire under a soft moonlight
chatting with an author, eager to learn about his roller-coaster ride to getting published.
But we also realized that there are available resources for fun other than what the campground offers. We have been amazed at all the possible things you can do, at what living in America offers. My post on Maximizing RVing Resources, Part 2 details things from: public centers like libraries, Visitor, Community, and Senior Centers (if you can already admit that you are a senior!); colleges and universities that make the campus a public center for enlightened living; commercial establishments that compete for our dollars; local governments/non-government associations that sponsor a variety of events; and churches that go beyond religious services. Treasures are also available in all the state and national parks that preserve America’s beauty for everyone to enjoy.

inside the RV when camped

There is a range of things to see and activities to do in and around where you park your RV. You will enjoy whole new notions of fun and meet people who can teach you simple joys or take you to life-changing directions. Camping around the country gave me the confidence not only to receive my naturalization papers but also, more importantly, to become a true American. Now I can say that those eight years were well spent. I came to know and appreciate all of America, the Beautiful.